The most radical thing you can do to eat better is to cook at home.
- Mark Bittman
In an effort to clean up our diets, Brandon and I have made it a priority to eat more meals at home. We are both privileged (beyond privileged) to have our lunches provided for us at work. They are organic, healthy, and offer a great variety of veggies. Lunch is covered.
Dinners, primarily on the weekends (Brandon eats dinner at work during the week, too), are not. Friday nights, to be completely honest with you, are usually take out or Jersey Mike subs. Sometimes we eat out on Saturdays as well. It's a habit that we are both ready to break. Enter meal planning.
Here's what working for me so far:
1. Grocery shop on a weeknight.
I don't know about you, but I hate grocery shopping on Saturdays or Sundays. The stores are always crowded, parking is difficult, and quite frankly, I'd rather being spending my day off doing something a little more fun than standing in a checkout line.
So the plan is to shop on Wednesday or Thursday nights. I'll plan my weekend meals on either of those days, email myself a list and head to Whole Foods (it's on my route) right after work. I tried that this week and it was actually pleasurable roaming the aisles! As a backup, there's a grocery shopping service that I'll use, Instacart*. I tried it and had a wonderful experience; however, I do prefer to go myself if time allows.
*Referral link for $10 off your first order.
2. Assess the freezer and pantry.
When I didn't meal plan before, I would always grab some items here and there that sounded good; frozen chicken, some quinoa, brown rice pasta, etc. But I never did anything with those ingredients. Now, I assess what I have on hand and make meals out of it. For instance, this week, I had some shredded brussels sprouts in the fridge that I needed to use and two frozen beef patties in the freezer so hamburgers, sweet potato fries and roasted brussels was a no-brainer.
3. Splurge on favorite things.
To be honest, I really looked forward to going out to eat with Brandon on Friday nights. Granted, it was simple take and go food, but it was food I loved. So I don't feel deprived of my foodie favorites, I am letting myself splurged a bit at the grocery store on some of my favorite (healthy) foods:
- fresh blueberries (I could eat them by the pound!)
- dried mango
- chicken apple sausage (my breakfast staple)
- mahi mahi (one of the only types of fish I like)
- expensive white tea varieties
- individual flavored greek yogurts (another breakfast favorite)
- kettle chips and snappea crisps (so addictive)
- turkey jerky
Long story short - the plan is working! I feel more in control of my health and I love that my Saturdays are spent doing what I want (which sometimes is chilling in my pajamas until noon) instead of fighting the crowds.
And in case you're curious, here's what was on the menu this weekend:
- Friday: Cauliflower crust pizza with pancetta + peppers
- Saturday: grilled burgers with sweet potato fries and roasted brussels sprouts
- Sunday: Mahi Mahi fish foil packets (with spinach and red potatoes)
We'll definitely still eat out on Fridays from time to time, but it'll feel more like a treat rather than a habit. For now though, I'm excited about making weekend meal planning a habit as well. Thank you Brittany, Queen of Meal Planning, for the inspiration :)